Fashion and hip-hop are not synonymous, but the former has been integral to the rise of the latter. As hip-hop genre has grown and morphed throughout the decades, its connection with fashion has become more clear than ever as plenty of rappers have their own lines now. Beginning with Polo Ralph Lauren freshness and Kangol caps and transitioning to everything from Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger boxer shorts and ostentatious bling, fashion’s influence in hip-hop made rising stars instantly iconic.
Since the mid ’90s, fashion has embraced high-end labels, not only as a source of aspirational aesthetics, but also as a means to acquiring some of the rarest looks available. From the Notorious B.I.G. in a silk Versace shirt to Lil Kim in Chanel earrings, designer fashion and couture became a new arbiter of success for many in the hip-hop world. Here, we look at some of the most memorable instances when rappers went couture, incorporating high-end designs flawlessly into their own take on culture.
2 Chainz — “Birthday Song” (Feat. Kanye West)
Kanye West has given us many things, from outrageous, occasionally offensive statements to a collection of perfect album. But most recently, fashion has been at the forefront of his mind. In 2 Chainz’s video for “Birthday Song,” west reportedly sported a pair of $1,500 leather athleisure pants. The look — like many of West’s fashion choices before it — became a blueprint for the next generation of street style looks. Think comfortable cuts with unusual fabrics — it’s luxe, but a luxe most people can fantasize about (and even imitate).
Ja Rule — “Always on Time”
Burberry’s connection to the hip-hop world was about as short-lived, yet memorable, as JaRule’s career. It makes sense then that the rapper would sport a nearly head-to-toe Burberry look in this video. From his Burberry bucket hat (which felt like a throwback reference to the ubiquitous Kangol caps of the early rise of hip-hop) to his matching sweater in Burberry plaid, Ja Rule confirmed even the most square of brands can seem cool with the right seal of approval. Crisp, pale yellow never looked so good.